Thursday, 27 January 2011

The malevolent minority

In front of me is a copy of the New Internationalist. It campaigns for a better world, one free of rapacious capitalism, insatiable consumerism, racial prejudice, exploitation of the vulnerable, and want of basic needs, with full human rights, freedom of speech and self expression for all. Worthy objectives which most would support.

 Yet to get to that stage we have to deal with the world as it is, recognising that all societies, not just our multinational capitalist system, are filled with imperfect human beings, and that among these are small groups led by people who most of us, especially  those living in the developing world, would call evil, or at least  of evil intent. Not only do they try to indoctrinate and exploit the downtrodden, but they wish to destroy democracy and threaten most of the gains, both material and intellectual, which have emerged from the Enlightenment. The human rights granted to citizens of western societies are seen as a weakness to be exploited in their mission of destruction. Were they to be successful they would replace democracy with a fascist dictatorship, calling it, for example, an 'Islamic' regime (an insult to the true followers of Islam).

Dangerous technology eventually, but inevitably, migrates out from government, university and commercial laboratories. If malevolent minorities can use suicide tactics and AK47s and the fear of innocent civilians to damage the society they hate, it is not difficult to imagine what they would do with powerful ordnance or biological agents at their disposal.

 Admittedly, some of this technology is unjustly used by the regimes which presently control it. But these regimes, even the worst of them, are accountable to their electorates or subjects as well as to global institutions such as the International Court of Justice (UN), European Court of Human Rights, the World Bank and the IMF.

Much is said about the colonial and imperial past of western nations, especially in the UK. That is history, although some exploitation continues and we have the freedom to reduce it. Today we have admirable aid efforts and try to raise the standard of living of countries we previously exploited. Even those exploitative times left legacies of democracy, education, medicine and infrastructure. All these achievements, past and present, are thwarted by tiny terror factions and endemic corruption.

In short, our western society has its faults; but it also permits us to acknowledge and atone for them by helping the developing nations.   To let it be destroyed would not only mean a long, brutal war but result in a dictatorial empire which would itself be unstable and which would involve yet another war.

The battle for justice and human decency is not, I maintain, between the developed and developing nations or  the rich and the poor, or capitalists and socialists, or green activists and climate change deniers, or Catholics and Protestants, or Sunnis and Shias, or Moslems and Hindus. It is between good and evil within each category. You know when good is winning, because good Catholics do not fight good Protestants, good Sunnis do not fight good Shias - good people of any religion, race, or political persuasion do not fight each other or those from any other group.

 Unfortunately, at present it is difficult to fight this battle in the radical, non-violent manner speculated upon in 2077 AD but for all our sakes it has to be won if humankind as we know it is to reach that not too distant time.

Author, 2077 AD